Kentucky mother hopes to save lives with binge drinking message

WALTON, KY (WAVE) - Two years ago a 15-year-old Kentucky teen died near her home, in the snow, after a night of binge drinking.  Now her mother is hoping a new public service announcement will save other families from going through her pain.

"The message is, if it happened to us, it can happen to anybody," says Danetta Kappelman, the mother of Karen Kappelman.

She makes for a reluctant public figure, a woman trust into notoriety.  Danetta agonized about coming forward to talk about her daughter's death, but she now wants to make sure no other teens died the way her daughter did.

"I want kids to know--don't drink alcohol. Don't give into peer pressure. Drinking alcohol's not fun. It leads to, well, problems and sometimes death," says Kappelman.

Karen died on a snowy day in 2010, 12 steps from her home in Walton, KY after a night of heavy drinking. She'd been partying with friend who left her outside on that cold night when she passed out.  Experts say Karen died of hypothermia.

"Karen wanted to be an exchange student to South Africa. Karen wanted to recycle, Karen liked to visit animal shelters," says Kappelman.

But because of that night, Karen will never see her 16th birthday. She lives now in the memories of her mother, a woman who is working through the grief process as positively as she can.

Jordan Hart, who was 20-years-old at the time, pleaded guilty in court to giving the teen alcohol.  He was sentenced to six months probation.

"Karen had eight shots of alcohol that night within an hour's time. That's not right. For the 20 year old to serve that to her, that's not right," says Kappelman.

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